Saturday, May 16, 2015

That Boom Boom That All the Boys Chase

It's not every night I get all  gussied up to go stand with a roomful of people on dates and listen to songs by Nickelback and Dr. Dre.

But then, Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox has never come to town before.

My ticket had been procured months ago, part of a May extravaganza since canceled. Familiar faces abounded: the restaurant owner, the actress, the Man About Town, the ad agency owner, the teachers, all dressed to the nines.

Using piano, upright bass, drums, sax and trombone, Scott Bradlee turns ubiquitous pop songs into jazz and swing versions using three female singers (one of whom was a world class whistler), one male singer, an emcee who also danced and sang and a phenomenal female tap dancer.

The females made as many costume changes as Cher.

The audience does its part by donning vintage-style dresses, high heels and way cuter ensembles than I've ever seen at the National. Like a Prince show for which I've been known to wear lingerie, I knew enough to dress appropriately for this band with black and blue and lace.

No doubt about it, the arrangements are outstanding, the execution flawless and the dance moves synchronized. It's a show. Only problem? I don't listen to popular radio, so I had no idea about a lot of the songs, although I did glean that a rearranged Usher song is pretty damn hilarious.

To wit, "If you dance on a pole, that don't make you a 'ho." Actually hearing lyrics and not just production changes everything.

Make no mistake, I recognized  a fair number of tunes. "Sweet Child o' Mine," complete with tap dancing was pretty righteous. Hearing "Hey, Jude" whistled got the crowd waving their arms in the air. And Queen, any Queen song, caused a massive singalong.

Not ashamed to say I loved hearing three Taylor Swift songs - a slow burn of "Blank Space," a sultry "Shake It Off" and a gender-shifting "Style" - make the set list. Thanks, I think I will sing along.

One of the female singers played the bad girl role all evening, taunting men in the front row (taking off one guy's glasses and asking, "Do you put the "rich" in Richmond? From that answer then, I guess you put the "virgin" in Virginia?") and advising a couple of young girls, "Remember, you are too fabulous for just one husband!"

Giving the band a break, Scott did a piano mash-up of audience suggestions: Madonna, Sinatra, Queen and Beck, a testament to the man's piano chops and ability to improvise. He was an interesting one to watch because every time the band began a new song, he was looking at the crowd as if to gauge how well the song was  going over.

Often, it was a mixed bag because the crowd was so diverse- much like a Prince show, all ages and colors - so many who recognized Guns 'n Roses didn't know from Maroon 5.

The encore, of course, was the song that probably brought PMJ (as the stands in front of the horn section read) to the attention of many in the audience - "All About That (Upright) Bass."

Only instead of one woman playing bass and singing like in the video, we got three women alternately doing vocals and the (single and eligible, we were told) bass player handling bass duties.

More than once, both Bradlee and the emcee reminded the crowd that if you don't like music you're hearing, change it, which is, of course, exactly what they do with pop songs, taking them and making them something entirely different.

Don't like it, change it. Now there's a philosophy I can get behind, whether we're talking music or husbands.

No comments:

Post a Comment